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Consolidation Ordered for Actos Bladder Cancer Lawsuits

Jan 1, 2011 | Parker Waichman LLP

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According to a release from the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) announcing the formation of MDL for all federal lawsuits involving Actos’ link to bladder cancer, an initial 11 cases plus at least 100 more have now been consolidated before Judge Rebecca F. Doherty in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana.

As Actos has become one of the leading prescription drug treatments for type 2 diabetes, the number of reports of people suffering adverse side effects, specifically the development of bladder cancer, have risen. Actos is manufactured by Japan-based Takeda Pharmaceuticals and assumed a leading role on the worldwide market when access to its chief competition, Avandia, was severely restricted by the Food and Drug Administration because it carried a dangerous risk of heart attacks, stroke and death among people taking it.

Now, more focus is being placed on Actos and as the reports of its side effects become more widespread, studies have been published linking the drug to an increased risk of bladder cancer, a potentially life-threatening disease especially when it’s not diagnosed at an early stage.

The dangers of Actos gained attention on a worldwide front in July 2011 when a study from French Medicines Agency declared taking the drug for more than a year or at high dosage levels significantly increases the chances a person will develop bladder cancer. This study prompted a Food and Drug Adminstration warning and even led French and German health regulators to suspend sales of Actos.

Thousands of lawsuits are expected to be filed against Takeda Pharmaceuticals from diabetics taking Actos who feel the company did not warn them or physicians about the risk of bladder cancer associated with the drug. More than 100 have been filed since the late summer and that number will likely grow exponentially over the course of the next year. Potentially millions of people suffering from type 2 diabetes could be taking Actos. According to the release, the peition to consolidate these lawsuits states Actos generated $4.8 billion in sales for Takeda over the last year.

MDL is designed to expedite and streamline the pre-trial portions of lawsuits, especially when they all make similar claims as they do in Actos filings. Consolidating the lawsuits is aimed to prevent inconsistent rulings from multiple judges and reduces the likelihood an eventual judgement will be appealed.

JPML said the Louisiana court is an ideal setting for the Actos litigation because it currently is not presiding over any other MDL and gets the matter in front of “an experienced judge.” Other locations considered for this MDL were Alabama, Illinois, New Jersey and Ohio.

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